Reflections of a Game Designer: Velotha’s Flock and Hwaet

I haven’t been writing as much about game design on my personal blog since I started writing daily for Loreshaper Games, but I’ve been thinking on what I’ve been doing with some of the content for my games and in particular how the context of previous experiences is shaping my current work as a designer.

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Audioshield and VR Design Experiences

I got Audioshield on sale, and I was pleasantly surprised by how different it was from the other VR experiences I’ve tried. I’m generally quite pleased with VR in general, but I noticed a few things that really stood out about how Audioshield was using its design in a much more efficient and smooth method than other games.

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Divinity: Original Sin 2 First Impressions

I got the sequel for Divinity: Original Sin today, and I was struck by how much it has changed from the original without feeling different (which, given how fantastic the first was, is a good thing in my book).

In particular, I remember noticing that there weren’t many of the hassles I complained about in the first game, so I figured that writing down some of my impressions would be a good place to start.

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Worldbuilding for Roleplaying: Hows and Whys

I’ve written on worldbuilding before, and I want to go over some very broad general ideas before I get back into it (which I’m hoping to do soon).

One thing that I want to talk about is how particularly to write for worldbuilding where you can have an effective roleplaying game based off of it. Many settings are really good at this, and some really aren’t, depending on how they’re implemented and written.

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links.

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Hammercalled Design Objectives (Or “Why You Should Play Hammercalled”)

I’ve become a bigger fan of planning recently as a way to prevent mission creep, and it was very effective for velotha’s flock, which released (mostly) on-schedule without any sacrifices to its core content.

So, as we move into Hammercalled entering regular testing by April and potentially being available to the public in its first wave release around that time, I want to share what my design objectives are for the game.

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Title Release Dates for March 2018

I put off writing today and I want to go to bed, so I’m going to just toss out some quick release dates for stuff.

I’m having writer’s block on Oskan’s Prophet/Rediscovery/The Legacy of Eight novel. I’m going to go back to drafting and keep what I can, but I’m putting it on the backburner for now.

The advanced player’s guide for velotha’s flock is due March 20 to DriveThruRPG. I don’t have self-publish privileges yet, but that should make sure that it gets up before March 23.

I’m also working on a combat/gear test for Hammercalled. That will take the form of its own independent mini-setting and game. The name is still in the air, but it’s a post-apocalyptic take on political intrigue. Or, alternatively, a vehicle brawler set out in the desert.

The four core mechanics I want to test here are:

  • combat
  • characters
  • gear
  • vehicles

Plus the very basic frameworks needed for a playable game.

Once those core mechanics are finished, I’m going to move to Street Rats. The setting will be somewhat different from the old Street Rats, but it will maintain a lot of the core feel. That’s to test:

  • super-technology
  • cyberspace (maybe?)
  • non-human characters
  • advanced talents and traits

Then we’re going to have an Othenar release, which will focus on:

  • magic
  • well, pretty much just magic, really, but that’s a heck of a beast

Once that’s done, we’ll bundle up the system and attach it to the Hammercalled system.

Is this a good idea?

I don’t know. It’s never been done. It gives us more time to build word of mouth before our big release, but it’s also going to be an adventure.

I hope you’ll stick with us through it.

Hammercalled Combat Revised, Part 2: Attack Actions, Move Actions, and Reactions

Yesterday I talked about how Hammercalled was getting a simple-but-fulfilling action system, today I want to go into more detail about how each of those actions can be used in combat.

One quick thing to remember is that actions can be used in any order, and can be used simultaneously, or split apart to different parts of the turn. This impacts my decisions in some of the defensive rules, since I want Hammercalled to be quick-playing and not get bogged down.

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Hammercalled Combat Revised, Part 1: The Action Economy and Initiative

I’ve gotten the idea that to get Hammercalled to the point that I want it to be at, I should probably break the development down into waves. The first wave of development is to focus on the gear and combat (the part of the game most currently developed, but also the most prone to needing a big overhaul.

When I started working on Hammercalled, I wanted a very complex combat system, but I’ve changed that to be more minimalist. I think that there are ways that I can still compete with and improve over equivalent market titles without falling foul of what I want to do here.

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Into the Breach Review & The Joys of Simple Combat

I got Into the Breach today. It’s a tactical strategy game with roleplaying/roguelite elements. I figured that it would be an especially good case study after yesterday’s article on designing combat systems for games, and I was not disappointed.

The whole game is quite charming, as one would expect from a title from the FTL developers, though I think I enjoy it more than I enjoyed FTL (which I loved certain elements of, but didn’t particularly find replayable or mind-blowing, merely competent and well-designed).

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